Thu, Nov 17, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan aims to become regional head office hub

HUB OF HUBS:Plans are underfoot to attract 50 companies per year to set up regional headquarters to run their operations in China and Southeast Asia

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday said it aims to attract up to 300 foreign firms to establish their regional headquarters in Taiwan by 2015, up from the current 100.

“The prowess of research and development (R&D) in Taiwan is second only to that in Japan in the Asia-Pacific region. That makes Taiwan very attractive to multinational corporations,” said Weng Ming-ter (翁明德), a section chief at the ministry’s department of investment.

Taiwan’s advantages in manufacturing, its talent pool and its cluster of technology supply chains make setting up a regional headquarters here a feasible choice, he told reporters.

The ministry plans to promote Taiwan as a regional headquarters hub by attracting 50 foreign firms per year to establish offices here, aiming for 300 regional headquarters by 2015.

These headquarters would be mainly responsible for operations in China and Southeast Asia, in the areas of logistics, financial management and technical transfer.

Compared with regional headquarters in Hong Kong — which normally employ fewer than 50 staff members — headquarters in Taiwan mostly recruit 100 to 500 employees, the ministry said.

Nearly half of the 100 regional headquarters currently set up in Taiwan are interested in expanding their business scope, with tentative investment plans of NT$30 billion (US$1 billion) over the next three years, Weng said.

Corporations that have a regional headquarters in Taiwan include Garmin Ltd, Applied Materials Taiwan, DuPont Taiwan Ltd, Cardif Assurance Vie Taiwan branch and Kuozui Motors Ltd (國瑞汽車).

Garmin, the US’ No. 1 portable navigation devices maker, said it increased R&D investment in Taiwan by 10 percent this year and plans to maintain the same momentum next year. The maker spent US$270 million on global R&D last year. Of that, Taiwan took a 9 percent share, said P.C. Huang (黃寶藏), Garmin’s Taiwan general manager.

The company has more than 8,000 staff worldwide and half of them are based in Taiwan, with the bulk of employees working on its production lines.

Despite labor costs in Taiwan being five times higher than in China, Huang said Garmin prefers Taiwan’s investment environment.

Kuozui, an automaker in which Toyota Motors Corp controls a 70 percent stake, also plans to grow its export business in Taiwan.

In 2009, Kuozui beat other Toyota affiliates in a bid for a project to produce and export its first model, Corolla Altis, to markets in the Middle East.

The export volume of Corolla Altis is expected to rise to 50,000 units this year, up from last year’s 30,000, Kuozui planning manager Chiang Lu-chung (蔣祿中) said.

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